To assess age-related changes in simple syntactic processing with normal aging, event-related brain potentials (ERPs) elicited by grammatical number violations as individuals read sentences for comprehension were analyzed. Violations were found to elicit a P600 of equal amplitude and latency regardless of an individual’s age. Instead, advancing age was associated with a change in the scalp distribution of the P600 effect, being less asymmetric and more frontal (though still with a parietal maximum) in older than younger adults. Our results thus show that the brain’s response to simple syntactic violations, unlike those reported for simple binary categorizations and simple semantic violations, is neither slowed nor diminished in amplitude by age. At the same time, the brain’s processing of these grammatical number violations did engage at least somewhat different brain regions as a function of age, suggesting a qualitative change rather than any simple quantitative change in speed of processing
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